It’s always interesting to watch the U23 World Championships as it gives an insight into who will be the stars of the future (although some who race the U23’s are already stars and have made their mark on the senior scene). This year’s Championships head to Sarasota in Florida, venue of the 2017 senior World championships. So, here’s a (brief) look at who will be the main contenders to watch.
The most likely favourite for this event is Germany’s Marc Weber. He was the runner-up at last year’s championships. The 21-year-old raced at both the Wedau and Ratzburg regattas this season, winning the Senior B M1X at the Wedau and the Senior A M1X in Ratzburg.
Greece’s Stefanos Ntouskos is the most experienced athlete in the field. An U23 bronze medallist in the BLM2- back in 2015, he went on to represent Greece in the LM4- at the Rio Olympics making the A-Final. After Rio he picked up a silver medal in the BLm2- at the U23’s before moving to heavyweight in 2017 finishing 14thin the M4- at the European Championships and 4thin the BM2-. IN 2018 he switched to sculling, finishing 16thin the M2X at the Senior World Championships and 13that this year’s Europeans.
Another athlete with senior racing experience is Romania’s Mihal Chiruta. He raced in the M1X at the European Championships, finishing a very creditable 8th(beating the reigning senior World Champion in the process). He raced at the U23’s last year finishing 17thin the BM4X.
An athlete to watch making the step up from the junior ranks is Australia’s Cormac Kennedy-Leverett. The Queenslander was JM1X World Champion in 2017 and silver medallist in the same event last year. He was selected to represent Australia at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games where he won bronze in the JM1X.
Brazil’s Lucas Ferreiraraced at the Senior World Championships in 2017 finishing 24th. Last year he raced at the U23’s and made the A-Final finishing 6thoverall.
Another name to watch out for is South Africa’s Thabelo Masutha. His aim is to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics and will be racing at the Senior World Championships in Linz next month in an effort to do so. He was the youngest competitor at the senior World Championships last year reaching the quarter finals and ending up 4thin the D-Final. In 2017 he became the first black South African to win a medal at the Junior World Championships, and earlier this year he became the youngest man ever to win the prestigious Silver Sculls at the Buffalo Regatta in East London. He raced at the Piediluco Regatta in Italy in April finishing 6thin the B Final of M1X.
Russia’s Alexander Vyazovkin won silver in the U23 BM4X in 2017 and raced in the senior M4X throughout the 2018 season, finishing 6that the first World Cup and 10that the 2nd. They raced at the European Championships last year placing 1stin the B-Final.
A small, but very talented field. The leading contender will most probably be Emily Kallfelz from the USA. The Princeton University student was US Rowing’s “U23 Female Athlete of the Year” in 2018. She’s already raced at the U23 World Championships three times, taking 4thin the BW2X in 2016, bronze in the BW1X in 2017 and then silver in the same event last year.
Italy’s Clara Guerra is probably the most experienced athlete in the race. She had an excellent 2018 winning bronze in the BLW2X and also bronze in the LW1X at the Europeans and then silver at the Senior World Championships. This season she has a 5thplace in the W1X at the Piediluco Regatta and 15that the European Championships.
Desislava Angelova of Bulgaria finished one place behind Kallfelz at last year’s U23 World Championships to take the bronze medal. She’s been racing on the senior circuit this season, just missing a medal at the 1stWorld Cup and then placing 11that the European Championships. It should be a good battle between her and the American.
Louise Munro of Canada is making her 2ndappearance at an U23 World Championships. The Queen’s University, Ontario, student finished 5thin the BW4X last year.
Germany’s Alicia Bohn will be a strong medal contender. She had two years on the German junior team, finishing 4thin the JW1X in 2015 and then taking silver in 2016. She moved up to the U23 team in 2018 finishing 4thin the BW4X. This season she raced in the open W1X at the Wedau Regatta in Duisburg placing 1stin the B-Final.
Another athlete heading to her 2ndU23 World Championships is Australia’s Ria Thompson. The Queensland University student raced in the U23 BW2X last year placing 5th. She raced in a number of events at the Sydney International Regatta earlier this year, taking gold in the U23 BW1X.
Megan Hancock of South Africa is one of only 3 athletes who haven’t already raced at U23 level. She has, however, raced at Junior level, winning a silver medal in the JW1X in 2017.
Another of the athletes making the step-up from the junior ranks is Great Britain’s Georgina Robinson-Ranger. The University of London student raced in the JW4X at the Junior World Championships last season finishing 5th, and went on to represent Great Britain at the Youth Olympic Games. This season she raced in the Championship 4- at Henley Women’s Regatta losing in the final to Edinburgh University.
South Africa won this event last year and have one of the crew, Charles Brittain, back to defend the title. He’s joined by Luc Daffarin, who raced in this event in 2015 finishing 5th. In 2018 he raced in the U23 BM2X finishing 12th.
The main threat to South Africa retaining their title will be Romania.They finished one place behind the South Africans last year and have both of the crew back for 2019, Florin-Sorin Lehaci and Dumitru-Alexandru Ciobica. They have both raced at the senior level with Ciobica winning silver in the M4- at the first World Cup this season and Lehaci a bronze in the M8 at the 1stWorld Cup in 2018.
Greece are another duo with senior racing experience. Ioannis Kalandaridis and Athanasios Palaiopanos raced at the European Championships this season finishing 11th. Kalandaridis is the reigning U23 World Champion in the BM2X and raced in the BM1X in 2017 finishing 8th.
Povilas Stankunas and Mantas Juskevicius of Lithuania both rowed in the BM4- at both the 2017 and 2018 U23 World Championships, finishing 7thon both occasions. They also raced in the M4- at the Europeans in 2018 finishing 12th.
Great Britain have a strong pairing of James Snowball and Rufus Biggs. Snowball, from Oxford Brookes University, was a member of their 2nd8 throughout the season racing at Duisburg and Ghent culminating in a win in the Temple Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta. Rufus Biggs has just graduated from Brown University where he was Co-Captain. He rowed in the Varsity boat for three of his four years at Brown, he’s also a two-time winner of the Fawley Challenge Cup at Henley.They are coached by cox of the Women’s 8, Morgan Baynham-Williams.
The Netherlands have a duo who are both making their World Rowing debuts, Robert Tiemeijer and Willem van Soest. Coached by Peter Wiersum, they raced as Aegir/Theta at the Netherlands Student Rowing Federation championships taking the bronze medal in Elite M2-.
The two leading crews in this event look to be Greece and the USA. The duo for Greece are Christina Bourmpou and Maria Kyridou. They raced at both the Junior and U23 World Championships in 2018. They won gold at the Juniors and then missed a medal at the U23’s by 1 place. They ended the season winning gold at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires. This season they made their senior international racing debuts, taking 5thin the A-Final at the European Championships. What’s scary is that both of these athletes are still only 18, if they continue their progress, they could be major contenders for the Paris Olympiad.
The USA has Sarah Johanek and Hadley Irwin. Johanek, from Rutgers University, won gold in the U23 BW4+ last year and Irwin, from Princeton University, took bronze in the BW8.
Representing Australia are the Sydney University duo of Tara Rigney and Dyone Bettega. They won U23 W2- at the Sydney International Regatta and Bettega rowed for Australia at the U23’s last year finishing 6thin the BW8.
Great Britain have paired Emily Lindburg from the University of London, with Esme Booth from Oxford Brookes University. Both are making their International debuts this season. Earlier in the year they raced in an U23 W4- at Duisburg Regatta finishing 4thbehind three senior boats.
The Netherlands have 2018 U23 BW8 gold medallist Eve Stewart. She’s joined by Jessy Vermeer who spent a couple of years on the Junior team, and represented the Netherlands at the Youth Olympic Games. Vermeer is studying at Ohio State and rowed in the Varisty crew that finished 6that the NCAA’s. Stewart is a student at Iowa and stroked the Varsity 8 to a 9thplace at the NCAA’s.
South Africa have also selected two athletes that are studying in the USA. Tayla-May Bentley and Jessica Schoonbee. They are both at the University of Michigan ad also attended the same school, St Mary’s School Waverly in South Africa. At Michigan they both rowed in the Varsity 8 that won the Big Ten Championships and bronze at the NCAA’s. Schoonbee’s brother, Kyle, is a member of the senior South Africa squad.
Germany have two returning U23 internationals, Sonja Schlosser finished 4thin the BW4+ and Leonie Berge raced in the BW4- that finished 11th. At the Ratzeburg Regatta earlier this season, Berge raced in the W2- winning the silver medal, and Schlosser was a member of the German U23 W8 that won gold.
New Zealand have selected a duo of gold medallists from the BW4X in 2017, Jack Lopas and Oliver Maclean. They are both studying in the USA. Lopas was a member of the outstanding Yale Varsity crew that went unbeaten throughout the 2019 season. Maclean spent his Freshman year at Northeastern University before transferring to the University of California – Berkeley, where he rowed in the Varsity 8 that finished 4that the IRA Championships.
Germany were bronze medallists in this event last season and have the same two athletes back again, Anton Finger and Henrik Runge. Runge has senior representative honours to his name as well as U23, having raced in the M2X at the Senior World Championships in 2017 finishing 15th. He was also in the U23 BM4X that finished 6thin 2016. Finger is in his 3rdyear on the U23 team, as well as winning bronze in 2018 he finished 8thin this boat class in 2017. They raced at the Ratzeburg Regatta in early June, winning the M2X event.
Great Britain have selected two athletes currently rowing for Leander Club. Viktor Kleshnev and James Cartwright were both members of the GB JM4X that won silver at last year’s Junior World Championships and are making their debuts at U23 level. Earlier this season they raced in the Leander quad that lost in the quarter finals of the Prince Of Wales Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta.
Italy have one of the most experienced crews in the event. Andrea Cattaneo and Luca Chiumento have been racing on the senior circuit this season, finishing 9that the European Championships and 12that the 2ndWorld Cup. They both raced at the U23 World Championships last year, with Cattaneo finishing 4thin the BM2X and Chiumento winning a silver medal in the BM4X. They raced in this boat class in 2017, finishing 10th. Cattaneo also raced at the Piediluco Regatta in April, finishing 4thin the M2X partnered by Emanuele Fiume.
Representing the Netherlands is Jaap de Jong and Ralf Rienks. De Jong is more used to racing with one oar, having been a member of the Brown University Varsity 8 all season. He was a junior world champion in 2015 and raced in the U23 BM8 last season finishing 6that the World Championships. Rienks, from the Technical University in Delft, rowed in the U23 BM4- in 2017 that finished 4that the World Championships.
Switzerland have half of the JM4X that won gold in 2017, Dominic Condrau and Valentin Huehn. They both raced at the U23 World Championships last year, with Condrau finishing 6thin the BM4X and Huehn 14thin the BM1X. This season they won gold in the M2X at the Swiss National Championships.
The final crew to mention are the USA.They have Cole Dorsey and Mark Couwenhoven. Dorsey raced in the 3rdVarsity 8 at George Washington University, and Couwenhoven, a member of the Craftsbury Sculling Center, won the M1X at the Dad Vails this season.
As in the BW2- it’s Greece who look to have the strongest combination. Anneta Kyridou and Dimitra-Sofia Tsamopouldou raced in this event two years ago, winning the bronze medal. Kyridou went on to race in the BW2X last season (partnered by Sofia Asoumanaki) finishing 4th. She then partnered Aikaterini Nikolaidou at the European Championships this season taking another 4thplace. Tsamopouldou raced in the BW4- last season that finished 8that the World Championships.
Australia have selected two experienced U23 internationals, Giorgia Patten and Harriet Hudson. For Hudson, this will be her 3rdyear on the U23 team, she won silver in the BW4X in 2017 and followed that up with a 5thplace in this boat class last year. Patten raced in the BW2- last season, finishing 5th. They both raced in the U23 W1X at the Sydney International Regatta this year (Patten for Western Australia, and Hudson for Sydney) with Hudson taking silver and Patten the bronze.
Germany are always strong in women’s sculling, and this year no exception. Lisa Gutfleisch raced in the BW1X in 2018 finishing 1stin the B Final. The previous year she raced the JW1X at the Junior World Championships finishing 6th. She’s partnered by Nora Peuser who steps up from the junior team. In 2017 she won silver in the JW2X at the Junior World Championships. They both sculled at the Ratzeburg Regatta (albeit in different W2X combinations) with Gutfleisch placing 3rdand Peuser 6th.
Elizabeth Sharis of the USA finished 4thin this event last season. For 2019 she’s joined by her Stanford University team-mate Emily Delleman. Delleman was junior World Champion in 2016 and raced on the U23 team last season placing 6thin the BW4X. Whilst at Stanford they both raced in the Varsity 8 that finished 4that the NCAA’s.
This has the makings of a fascinating contest.Romania are the defending champions, but they only have one member of last year’s crew, Stefan-Constantin Berariu, back for 2019. He’s joined by two other U23 medallists, Alexandru Chioseaua and Mugurel Vasile Semciuc. They both won bronze in the BM8 last year. The final member of the crew is 2018 Junior World Champion Alexandru-laurentiu Danciu. All four of this crew have already made an impact on the Senior stage. Berariu raced in the M4- at the 2018 World Championships, finishing 5th. The crew also have a World Cup silver medal from this year’s 1stWorld Cup and members of the crew also raced at the European championships.
Great Britain were 2ndto the Romanians last season and they have a crew full of U23 medallists. David Ambler and Charlie Elwes were both in this boat last year. Ambler also has an U23 bronze medal from the BM8 in 2017 and has been a regular member of the Harvard Varsity 8. Elwes won another silver in this boat in 2017 and is also studying in the USA and was a member of the outstanding Yale Varsity crew that went unbeaten in the 2019 season. Tom Digby is another member of the Yale Varsity and also has two U23 silver medals to his credit – from the BM4- in 2017 and the BM8 last year. Freddie Davidson is the only member of the crew not studying in the USA, the new Cambridge University President is a Boat Race winner and was a member of the silver medal U23 BM8 last season. This quartet raced in the Visitors Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta, breaking the course record on their way to victory.
New Zealand also have a crew full of U23 medallists. Ben Taylor and Sam Jones won silver in the BM4+ last season and Tom Mackintosh and Thomas Russel were bronze medallists in this event last season. Mackintosh and Russel also raced in the M4- at the Senior World Championships last year finishing 15th. During the New Zealand domestic season, Jones won gold in the Premier M4- at the National Championships with Mackintosh, Taylor and Russel in 2nd.
Australia have a crew that are all making their U23 debuts. Their crew unites rowers from opposite sides of the Australian Boat Race. Marcus Britt and William O’Shannessy from Sydney University, and the Lavery brothers, Nicholas and Rohan from Melbourne University. All four raced at the Sydney International Regatta earlier this year, with the Sydney University duo of Britt and O’Shannessy winning gold in the U23 M2- and the Melbourne Lavery brothers winning gold in the U23 M4-.
The USA have one crew member with previous U23 experience, Liam Corrigan. He finished 4thin the Bm2- last year and was a member of the Harvard Varsity crew this season. At bow is Beck Thomas who rowed in the Yale University 2ndVarsity this season. In the middle of the boat are David Bridges and George Esau, both from the University of Washington. Esau was a member of the 1stVarsity and Bridges the 2V.
Germany reached the A-Final of this event and have 3 of that crew back for 2019. Friedrich Dunkel, Paul Heinrich Seiters and Marc Kammann are joined by Olaf Roggensack who finished 4thin the BM8 last season. The raced at the Ratzeburg Regatta this season finishing 2ndto the Dutch Senior M4-.
Another country who reached the A-Final in this boat class in 2018 were Italy. Edoardo Lanzavecchia and Giorgio Casaccia were members of that crew, and return for 2019. Nunzio di Colandrea won bronze in the BM8 last season, and the final member of the crew, Matteo Sandrelli, raced in the BM8 in 2017.
Canada look to be the form crew in this event. They have two members of the U23 World Champion BW8 from 2018, Ivy Elling Quaintance and Isabel Ruby-Hill. They are joined by two members of the University of Victoria, Piper Battersby and McKenna Simpson. Simpson rowed at the U23’s last season finishing 10thin the BW2-.
China have two experienced U23 internationals on-board, Xiaoxin Liu won a bronze medal in this event last year, and Mingwei Zhao competed in the BW2- at the 2016 U23 World Championships. Zhao has also raced at the Senior World Championships finishing 10thin the W2- in 2017. They are joined by two international debutants, Ziwen Zhou and Fengiiao Sun.
Spain also have a crew of experienced U23 internationals, Nuria Puig Aguilo and Victoria Cid I Centelles finished 14thin the BW2- and Aitzpea Gonzalez 12thin the BW4- last year. The 4thmember of the crew is former Junior international Esther Briz Zamorano.
Great Britain have two of the crew that just missed out on the medals in the BW8 last year, Alex Rankin and Lauren Irwin. They are joined by Lydia Currie and Hope Cessford. Currie is a team mate of Rankin’s at Edinburgh University and won gold at the EUSA Championships last year. They raced together as part of the winning Champ 4- at Henley Women’s Regatta this year. Cessford finished 7thin the JW4- at the Junior World Championships in 2017, and has just finished her Freshman year at Harvard University. Whilst at Harvard she raced in the 6 seat of the Varsity 8 that won Eastern Sprints.
Germany won the W4- at Ratzeburg Regatta earlier this season, the crew includes Charlotte Koerner who was 4thin the BW4+ , Marieluise Witting finished 11thin the BW4- last year and former junior internationals Charlotte Von Bockelmann and Mira Moch.
Rowing in Ireland is experiencing a real purple patch at the moment and their U23 W4- look to be serious contenders. Emily Hegarty and Tara Hanlon raced in the BW2- last year and finished 12th. Hegarty then partnered Aifric Keogh in the W2- at the Senior World Championships reaching the A-Final. They are joined by Claire Feerick and Eimear Lambe who raced as a pair at the Poznan World Cup this year finishing 12th. Hanlon and Hegarty were part of the Irish W4- at the Poznan World Cup and finished 11th. As a quartet this crew raced at the Piediluco regatta placing 4thin the A-Final of W4-, just 1 place behind a senior Irish crew that included World Champion Sanita Puspure.
New Zealand have two of the crew that finished 5thlast year, Catherine Layburn and Charlotte Spence. They are joined by Jemma James, who finished 14thin the BW1X last year, and Grace Watson who won bronze at the Junior World Championships last year. At the New Zealand National Championships earlier this year, Layburn and Spence won the U22 W2- and also took bronze as part of the Auckland Regional Performance Centre Premier W4-.
Russia have three of the crew that raced in the BW8 last season, Elena Mozgunova, Elena Shapurova and Marina Rubstova. The 4thmember of the crew is Maria Kubyshkina, she raced in the U23 BW8 in 2017 that won bronze and then went on to race at the senior world championships.
The USA crew includes two members of the Stanford University varsity 8, Chase Shepley and Kaitlyn Kynast. Kynast was a member of the BW8 that won bronze last year. They are joined by Meredith Koenigsfield from the University of Iowa and Teal Cohen, who won the NCAA’s with the University of Washington.
Great Britain look to be strong favourites in this event. They are the defending champions and have three of the 2018 crew back again. Sam Meijer is already a double U23 World Champion, winning the BM2X in 2017 and the BM4X in 2018. He’s also a double junior world medallist and has, in fact, only lost one race at a World Championships (finishing 2ndin the JM4X in 2014). The Harvard graduate was the sculling spare for the senior GB team in 2018 and is targeting a place in the 2020 Olympic team. Josh Armstrong was also in the gold medal crew last season and finished 7thin the U23 BM1X in 2017. He’s an outstanding talent and raced in the senior M1X at the 2ndWorld Cup in 2017. The third returner is Matt Haywood from Nottingham Rowing Club. The fourth member of the crew is George Bourne of Durham University, who was spare for the U23 team last year. As a crew they won the Prince of Wales Challenge Cup at Henley, equalling the course record in the process.
The main challengers to Great Britain look to be Italy. They were runners-up to GB last season, but only have one member of that crew returning, Pietro Cangialosi. The other three athletes are all experienced U23 internationals, Gustavo Ferrio won bronze in the BM4+ and Salvatore Monfrecola finished 6thin the BM4-. The final member of the crew is Emanuele Giarri who came 10thin the BM1X. This season Giarri and Cangialosi raced in the M2X at Piediluco winning the B-Final.
Hungary finished 4thlast year and, like GB, have 3 of that crew back again; Marton Szabo, Kristof Acis & Mate Bacskai. The fourth member of the crew is Daniel Dano who raced in the BM1X finishing 19th.
It’s not often that Moldova get mentioned, but they have a strong quad this year. Alexandru Masnic, Ivan Corsunov, Alexandr Bulat and Chirill Vistochi-Sestacov finished 8thlast season. This year they’ve raced on the senior circuit winning silver at the 1stWorld Cup and took 13that the European Championships.
Finishing 1 place ahead of Moldova at the European Championships was Switzerland. Their crew includes Scott Baerlocher and Linus Copes who finished 6thin the Bm4X last season. They are joined by Pascal Ryser who came 11thin the BLM2X and Kai Schaetzle sculled at the Youth Olympic Games.
Sadly I’ve run out of time to write about any of the other events before racing starts. But I will add a bit about the other events before the finals take place.